Concerns over Snap Maps, a new function released by social media application Snapchat, have led to the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board issuing guidelines to schools and parents.

Snap Maps allows users to see where in the country their Snapchat contacts are, as well as seeing location-based pictures and videos. The Snap Map shows a user’s Bitmoji, their cartoon avatar within Snapchat, pinpointed on a world map. Users can then zoom into the map to see the exact location of their friends.

The Board warns that sharing locations can be risky as people you do not know may be able to make contact or see what you have posted. Its tips for children on location-sharing are:

 Only share your location with people you know in person. Never share your location with strangers.

 Do not add contacts to Snapchat if you do not know them in person.

 Regularly review your settings and take an active decision about whether you want people to know your location. Remember, you can switch this off at any time.

 Think about where you are sharing your location. Location services such as Snap Maps can lead people to your house. Think about what times you are on the app and whether these are locations you want to share – if not, then turn this off within your settings.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Janet Sanderson, said: “It is important to be careful about who you share your location with, as it can allow people to build up a picture of where you live, go to school and spend your time.

“Given how specific this new feature is on Snapchat – giving your location to a precise pinpoint on a map – we would encourage users not to share their location, especially with people they don’t know in person.’’

There are three settings for sharing location on the map:

 Ghost Mode – this means that you are the only person who can see your location on the map. You can still see the locations of your friends but they will be unable to see you. This setting will ensure that you have complete control over who knows your location.

 My Friends – this means that all of your contacts on Snapchat can see your location. If turning on this setting, then it would be important for users to review their Snapchat contacts and also make sure that they never add someone they do not know in person to Snapchat.

 Select Friends – this setting allows users to look through their friend list and then decide which of their friends they want to be able to view their location. This setting gives users the opportunity to control who can view their location.

Anyone who has concerns about an online experience or is looking for support can contact a number of organisations:

 The NSPCC provides advice and support to parents, carers and other adults and can be contacted on 0808 800 5000 or help@nspcc.org.uk

 Children and young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111

 The Child Exploitation Online Protection (CEOP) and for young people, Think U Know

Visit the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board website at www.safeguardingchildren.co.uk/

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